Heathrow Airport

The biggest of London's airports (in addition to Gatwick Airport, Stansted Airport, Luton Airport (which is being marketed as a London airport even though it isn't really) and City Airport), with four terminals. They have their own Tube stations, [Heathrow Terminals 123 Station]? and [Heathrow Terminal 4 Station]?. They are also building a fifth terminal.


At present, terminal 4 (southern side of the airport) is for KLM, Qantas and most British Airways long-haul flights; others are shared between terminals 1-3 (central area). See http://www.heathrow-airport-guide.co.uk/terminals.html for more details. It's possible to walk between terminals 1-3, though it can take a while; getting between these and terminal 4 is free on the Heathrow Express. In any case, it's well worth confirming the terminal before you set out for Heathrow.

Runways and flight paths

There are three runways: 09L/27R (12800 feet), 09R/27L (12000 feet), and 05/23 (6400 feet). Typically, 09R/27L is used for departures, and 09L/27R for arrivals (the direction depending on the wind); 05/23 is only used in severe crosswind conditions. Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world in terms of aircraft movements, and has some of the most crowded airspace above it, so all flight activity is strictly controlled; This is one of the few airports from which [Concorde]? operated.

Getting from other places in London to Heathrow

The best way to get to Heathrow is by Tube as noted. Parking is extremely expensive, and while there is a "Heathrow Express" rail service from Paddington, it costs significantly more than the Tube for a very minor time saving, though if you're in or near Paddington the time saving can be significant.

If you have an early-morning flight meaning the tubes and Heathrow Express aren't running yet, buses are available, including the [National Express]? bus and the N9 nightbus. A minicab in the early hours from much of London West of the centre shouldn't cost more than twenty or so pounds, which is worthwhile if your party is larger than one person or you have a lot of luggage.

Note that the Terminal 4 Tube station will be closed between Friday 7 January 2005 and September 2006, to allow for work extending the Piccadilly Line to Terminal 5 - you should alight at [Hatton Cross]? and take the rail replacement bus instead. Also the Terminal 1/2/3 station will be closed on 8/9 Jan 2005. More info on the TFL site.

Getting from Heathrow to other places in London

For getting from Heathrow to other places in London, there's the above options, plus, of course taxis. However bear in mind that firstly a taxi will be expensive, and secondly taking a taxi from Heathrow for a short distance can be deeply unfair on the driver — see a uk.transport.london post about taxis at Heathrow for the reason why.

Getting from Heathrow to Gatwick, Luton and Stansted

National Express operate direct coach services between Heathrow and London's other major airports. From Heathrow to Gatwick there are around 100 services a day each way! The direct coach service is not the cheapest option though. Indirect routes via Central London using the London Underground interchanging with the various airport buses to the other airports work out much cheaper. In the case of Stansted there is little in time difference as well. see fastest and cheapest transport between London's airport pairs

Discussion, questions and comments

All the roads on the airport begin with the letter 'S'. (Anyone know why?)

  • (A cabbie told me last time I got work to pay for a cab from Heathrow to home, that if you want to go a small distance then tell the guy running the rank that you want to go to at least Chiswick, if not further - if the distance is much less than Chiswick, then the cabby has to wait for a while before he can go back on the Heathrow rank, if further then he gets ticket to let him back in quicker...I'm fairly sure that was it --Billy)
  • (Isn't it the other way around? They get the ticket to get back in quicker if their fare is only for a short distance. --Kake)
  • (I think you're right...I was rather jetlagged and dazed at the time --Billy)
(Latitude: 51.465182 Longitude: -0.447861)
Last edited 2006-11-22 09:06:00 (version 19; diff). List all versions.